Perhaps my mother and sister wouldn’t have been so shocked because they knew her better, but to me she was a familiar stranger.
I cleared my throat. We still had a long journey ahead of us. Now was as good a time as any to start changing that. To my surprise, she was the one to break the ice.
“I don’t find it strange that you’re named after my dead brother, by the way.” She gave me a small smile. “Just thought I’d let you know. I get asked that a lot by the girls on the island. Ben’s a common name in any case.”
“Uh, good,” I said, giving her a sideways glance.
An awkward silence followed—mainly on my part. Abby had spoken matter-of-factly, without emotion.
I had wondered for a long time whether she’d ever held resentment toward my mother and father. After all, if it weren’t for them, their family wouldn’t have gotten implicated in the crazy world of the vampires and hunters, and her parents and brother would likely not be dead. My mother hadn’t given me details of how Abby’s parents had died, but I knew that it was in some horrific way due to the very fact that my mother hadn’t wanted to describe it. I also knew that Abby’s brother had been in love with my mother… and had she not chosen my father, there was always the possibility that Benjamin Hudson would have married her.
I decided to see how far she was willing to go to satisfy my curiosity. “I’m sorry for… everything that happened,” I said.
She nodded, her eyes now fixed ahead on the dark ocean.
“And I, uh, hope this topic doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable.”
She shook her head and gave me a smile. “It’s all right.”
“I’ve always wondered whether a part of you feels resentful of me, of my father… considering the love your brother had for my mother…”
“Seriously? Do others think that too? Does your mom think that?”
“I can’t speak for others,” I said quickly. “But I guess it’s just something I’ve always wondered.”
“No, of course not,” she said, almost breathless with exasperation. “I couldn’t hold a grudge like that against Sofia, or any of you. I couldn’t live all these years with that weighing my heart down. And in any case, it’s not like you can choose who you fall in love with. These things just happen.”
She appeared agitated and stood up. She abruptly left the room, closing the door behind her.
Again, I found her behavior strange. My assumption had always been that Abby was a calm, cool person. Not the type to storm out of rooms in the middle of a conversation.
Once I felt confident enough to put the vessel on autopilot for a few minutes, I left the control room in search of her. I found Abby in the passenger chamber next door. She leaned against the wall and stared blankly at the opposite wall. She didn’t look up as I entered the room.
I sat down on the bench next to her. “You all right?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she muttered, blowing out. “I guess I’m just sick of people pitying me. I’ve moved on from my past. I’ve found a new life. And each time someone thinks my past might affect how I relate to others, or how others should treat me, it feels like I’m being pulled back to the place I’ve fought for so long to climb out of.”
A silence fell between us again.
“Well,” I said, “I had no idea, so thanks for telling me. It sure makes me feel a lot less awkward around you. I won’t mention anything about your past again. I’ll treat you the way I would any other girl on the island.”
She looked up at me and smiled, her blue eyes sparkling. “I’d like that,” she said, sitting up straighter on the bench.
“So, on another subject… what are you going to eat while we’re on this sub?” I asked.
“Oh, I won’t be hungry for a while,” she replied. “And if worst comes to worst, we can stop and I’ll try to catch myself some fish. Their blood is revolting, but beggars can’t be choosers.”
“All right,” I said, and walked back toward the control room. Abby followed me there. We both resumed our seats next to each other. Once I’d made sure we were still on course and traveling as fast as we could, I asked, “Did you find it as painful turning into a vampire as everyone else seems to?”
She smirked. “Oh, yes,” she replied. “There really is no way to not experience that pain. You and Rose, you’re still thinking to turn at eighteen?”
“If we survive until then,” I said grimly.
“I turned again at eighteen,” she said. “I think it’s a good age. You’re old enough to be an adult, young enough to still be excused for having fun.” She grinned.
I couldn’t think of a single occasion when I’d witnessed Abby acting her age. She always seemed so serious. More confirmation that I ought to get to know her better.
It was something I was now looking forward to doing once we were out of this dark tunnel… if we ever got out of it.
Chapter 23: Ben
I was beginning to doubt my navigating skills, but eventually, with Abby’s help, I managed to reach the beach Corrine had marked.
By the time we surfaced, the sun had already dipped below the horizon. Darkness was good for Abby, though of course not for me. I rummaged around in the submarine and was relieved to find a flashlight in one of the cabinets.
I stuffed my backpack with as many weapons as would fit, while Abby took some of her own to carry, and we both climbed out of the hatch.